10. New York Yankees, SS, Derek Jeter
Remember the days of A-Rod, Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra headlining the most exciting position in the infield? They took the torch from superstars like Ozzie Smith and Cal Ripken Jr. Well, times have changed. A-Rod, like Ripken went to third (and has faded fast) and Nomar has been gone for years. But there is no way we could leave off Derek Jeter – a 13-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner, and five-time World Series Champion, who by the way had 216 hits last season. Each time Derek connects for a base hit, we are witnessing history, as he is the only active player in the Major Leagues that has over 3,000 hits. Currently he is 11th all-time and barring a setback of sort he should be sitting at #6 on the MLB all-time hit list at the end of the season. The fractured ankle is behind him and the love handles are a distant memory, so expect another sensational season. Jeter is very motivated to have a better year than last as he is still chasing that illustrious sixth championship ring (sounds like we are talking about Kobe). Derek will never hit for power but he is the guy you want up at the plate in crunch time. Jeter delivered as a young man and though father time may have set in, he will still find a way.
2013 Predictions .307BA 7HR 50RBI.362OPB.
9. Baltimore Orioles, SS, JJ Hardy
JJ just received his first Gold Glove Award last season but he didn’t match the same intensity at the plate. His batting average dipped into the .230s and he had a career high in strikeouts with 106.
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter puts it bluntly. He wants to move J.J. Hardy out of the second spot in the lineup. Can you blame Buck? J.J. is still one of the better power hitting shortstops in the Majors, as he has hit 52HRs in the past two seasons. Hardy has been part of offseason trade rumors with the Detroit Tigers. If you are in a fantasy league, you may want to keep your eye on this one just in case a trade does happen. The Tigers are loaded on offense and if he is surrounded by better players, then Hardy, who is known for his streakiness, could certainly have a productive year.
2013 Prediction .265BA 27HR 81RBI .310OBP .407SLG
8. Texas Rangers, SS, Elvis Andrus
If only this kid could do a cartwheel followed by a flip; we would have our reincarnation of Ozzie Smith. Well not true, Ozzie was a switch-hitter but in the field my man Elvis is a wizard in his own right. This 2X All-Star has completed his fourth season and is a fixture at the shortstop position for the Texas Rangers. Since being called up, he has been one of the better clutch hitters in baseball, as he shows the toughness of an Omar Vizquel in the field and each year becoming a difficult out at the plate. Andrus will not provide any power from the plate, in fact shame on you pitcher for even allowing him to go yard on you, as he has 14 career home runs in his first four seasons. Elvis is a sure bet to bat in the first two spots in the lineup and wreak havoc on the bases.
2013 Predictions .302BA 1HR 57RBI 28SB .355OBP .378SLG
7. Philadelphia Phillies, SS, Jimmy Rollins
Rollins is the first NL MVP (2007) on the Top 10 list. Yes, he is decorated – 3-time All-Star, 4 time Gold Glove winner, a member of the 30/30 club, and a World Champion. He is now entering year number 14 and still holds his rightful place at the leadoff spot where he continues to provide some power and speed at the age of 33. Gone are the days of 20 triples in a season, but he can still place the ball all over the park. He was able to steal 30 out of 35 bases last season, so he can still display the speed too. He was able to manage 23 dingers last year, but my concern with him would be his batting average and on base percentage. It seems he was going for the fences a lot more. Even a veteran must be reminded that we need you on base to start things off.
2013 Predictions .264BA 21HR 60RBI .333OBP .404SLG
6. Cleveland Indians, SS, Asdrubal Cabrera
Asdrubal Cabrera is a bright star for the Cleveland Indians. Though he had a dismal second half last season, the Indians are expecting him to bounce back to his 2011 numbers. Asdrubal, a switch-hitter, will bat second in the lineup this season and will hope to provide plenty of offense to a mediocre Cleveland team. With newly acquired Michael Bourne leading things off and Jason Kipnis providing protection in the three hole, there should be plenty of opportunities for Asdrubal at the plate.
2013 Prediction .278BA 19HR 87RBI .335OBP .421SLG
5. Washington Nationals, SS, Ian Desmond
Ian Desmond was just as big a surprise as the team he plays for, the Washington Nationals. What a difference a year makes, as Desmond’s numbers from 2011 to last season could warrant him Most Improved Player. In 2011 he had a .253BA 8HR 49RBI; in 2012 he had a .292BA 25HR 73RBI in 24 fewer games. Ian’s speed and power allowed him to be a member of the 20/20 club last year. He had a phenomenal season that landed him his first All-Star appearance and Silver Slugger Award. There is no doubt the talent Ian has displayed but the question is for this season, will he improve on last years numbers?
2013 Predictions .287BA 24HR 81RBI 28SB .340OBP 501SLG
4. Chicago Cubs, SS, Starlin Castro
The Chicago Cubs are looking at their rising star, Starlin Castro, and saying it’s time to take the kid gloves off. After three full seasons in the big leagues, we have seen flashes of an elite shortstop; but at times in his young career, he can be a bit aloof. Castro can play at the professional level as he has already record his second All-Star appearance at the age of 23; but for him to reach superstar level he needs to focus for the entire 162 games. The only flaw in Castro’s game is on defense, as he led the NL in errors with 29. On offense, his batting average has been around .300, he is hitting a high number of triples with 21 in the last two seasons.
2013 Predictions .301BA 14HR 77RBI 23SB .339OBP .440SLG
3. Toronto Blue Jays, SS, Jose Reyes
I can arguably say that Jose Reyes is the first DIVA on the top 10 list. Anybody that removes himself out of the lineup to secure a batting title is considered a Diva. Good thing he plays the game with a lot of swagger, and in my opinion he is the best lead-off hitter in all of baseball. This 4-time All-Star has recently won a batting crown (.337) in 2011, usually leads the Majors with double-digit triple numbers, and always among the top of the stolen base list. Reyes had just become the newest member of the $100 million club by committing to the Miami Marlins last season; unfortunately it was short-lived as the team, which had high expectations, flopped and the Marlins ended up conducting a fire sale that sent Reyes to his new home in Toronto. Becoming a Blue Jay could be a blessing in disguise, as on paper they may have the best talent in the American League East. In order for a successful season in Toronto, Jose must get on base, swipe bases, stay healthy, and surely he will cross home plate just plenty with Encarncaion and Bautista batting behind him.
2013 Predictions .304BA 9HR 51RBI 40SB .350OBP .422SLG
2. Los Angeles Dodgers, SS, Hanley Ramirez
Diva? The former Rookie Of The Year, 3-time All-Star, Hanley Ramirez is the epitome of DIVASTYLE! Anyone who scowls about having to change position for the betterment of the team is a Diva. Maybe pouting was his plan all along as he made things so miserable in Miami that the Marlins traded him midseason to the Los Angeles Dodgers. With all the acquisitions that the Dodgers made in the past year, LA is looking like the sexy team to play for this season. Their line-up is star-studded and has Ramirez projected to bat 5th in the order. Expect to see a happier Hanley, who has a chance to surpass last year’s power numbers of 24HR and 92RBI. He no longer has to be the one to carry a team on his back. Ramirez will be able to supply both speed and power in the middle of the lineup, which could potentially get him close to another 30/30 season.
2013 Predictions .284BA 27HR 96RBI 31SB.332OBP.447SLG
1. Colorado Rockies, SS, Troy Tulowitzki
The guy who can take the shortstop position to new heights would be no one other than Mr. Troy Tulowitzki. Just two seasons ago this dynamic young superstar hit .302BA with 32HR and 105RBI in just 143 games. He has become a main draw in Colorado, when he plays. Troy has recently been getting a stigma of being an injury prone player. In the last three seasons he has played 122, 143 and 47 games, respectively. Last season was cut short after having season ending surgery on his left groin. When Troy is available to play, he is as dominant of a hitter as you will find in baseball. Look for Tulowitzki to have a heathier campaign, focusing on getting back to his All-Star and Gold Glove form.
2013 Predictions .305BA 28HR.100RBI.388OBP.521SLG
Players who could easily crash the party.
Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Zobrist has been a valuable fantasy commodity for the past few years due to his eclcetic tool set that offers speed, power, and position versatility. He qualifies at shortstop for fantasy, though he is expected to start in right field. He’s delivered a OPS over .820 in four of his last five seasons with over 70 RBI each of the last four seasons (and over 90 in two of those seasons). In his age 31 season, don’t expect a major uptick, but more of the same from the versatile Zobrist. 2013 Predictions .268BA 20HR 85RBI 19SB .368OBP
Martin Prado, 2B/SS/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
After another strong season with Atlanta, Martin Prado was sent to Arizona as a part of the Justin Upton trade where he’ll start at third base, but maintain his shortstop eligibility for fantasy purposes. He moves to a more hitter friendly ballpark and is still only 29. Another one of his well-rounded seasons with a great average, a little pop, and a little speed should be expected. 2013 Predictions .297BA 11HR 71RBI 19SB.348OBP.430SLG